What does “hijab” entail?


a perfect headscarf does not a hijabi make…

Apparently as long as one sports a perfect headscarf, ones awrah does not need to be covered!

Wearing hijab is not about being trendy, stylish or “cool…it is about following God’s rules and being a decent, pious Muslim and showing the world that you are just that.

There is a beautiful saying I recently read, its supposidly from the Prophet Salallahu ‘alayhi wa salam, although I havent been able to find any evidence of it, regardless its still beautiful and I wish more sisters thought about this when they decide to cover fi’sab’Illah (For the sake of God!)

“The summit of ones hijab is to wear the jilbaab (the overgarment)…the woman who wears the overgarment is a wrestler who has smashed her Nafs Al-Ammara under her feet!

The Nafs Ammara is is most base, lowest ego…conquering that elevates the Muslim towards progressing in their deen, increases their eman and helps them to overcome the other nafs…

What are the rules for our hijab? Well they vary depending upon which madhab and scholar ones chooses to follow…but at the simpliest level it encompasses an overgarment or “jilbab”  which is opaque, is worn over ones regular clothing when going outside or when around non-mahrams and a khimar or scarf to cover the hair, neck and busom.

According to the following ayah… al-Ahzab ayah 59 (33:59) says:

Ya ayyuha an-Nabiyy qul li azwajika wa banatika wa nisa al-mu’minin yudnina alayhinna min jalabib hinna; dhalika adna an yu’rafna fa laa yu’dhayn. Wa kana Allahu Ghafur Rahim

O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their JALABIB close around them; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle.

This Ayah states several important things…one that the word “jalabib” is the plural of “jilbab“.  That the Muslim women is to wear a garment which Allah subhana wa ta’ala has called “jilbab“. That they should wear such recognizable attire so people know they are believing Muslims!

Another important ayah which further gives advice for believing women is this… al-Ahzab ayah 33 (33:33) says:

“And do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance”

In turn there are several recorded hadiths which show how the women of the Sahabah followed this command…

Sunan Abu Dawud Book 32 #4090. Narrated Umm Salama, Umm al-Mu’minin: When the verse, “That they should draw their jalabib close around them” was revealed, the women of Ansar came out as if they had crows over their heads by wearing jalabib.

Sahih Bukhari Book 8 #347. Narrated Umm Atiyya: We were ordered to bring out our menstruating women and screened women to the religious gatherings and invocation of the Muslims on the two Eid festivals. These menstruating women were to keep away from the musalla. A woman asked, “O Messenger of Allah! What about one who does not have a jilbab?”. He said, “Let her borrow the jilbab of her companion”.

Obviously the early Muslim women did not hesitate to cover properly according to what God commanded in the Quran! So, how can we not? How can we make excuses which for the most part are simply an extension of our ego? I understand if a sister is new to Islam or new to covering and is not able to cover fully due to family objections, lack of money or whatever else but en’sha’Allah it should be something that we strive for and the minimum is that we are careful with both our attire and our manners. Because hijab is not and never has been just a scarf on the head, its the entire ensemble with modest behavior.

I really like the brief “in a nutshell” summary which sister Ruqaiyyah Maqsood in her Thoughts On Hijab brings up regarding what scholars say encompasses the hijab and jilbab of a Muslim woman.

“So, according to the majority opinion of the scholars (Sunni), the jilbab can be any garment or combination of garments that meet the following criteria:

  • It is an outer-garment; an extra layer; something worn over the normal clothing.
  • if the khimar is not worn, this garment must cover from the top of the head down, but if the khimar is worn, this garment only needs to cover from the shoulders down.
  • it should be made of fabric that is opaque so that it does not show what is beneath it, and it must be loose so that it does not reveal the contours of what is beneath it.
  • for modest feet, some scholars add that if socks are not worn, the garment must cover down to the ground, but if socks are worn so that the feet are completely covered, this garment only needs to cover down to the ankles.

Outdoor clothing;

These scholars are agreed that the jilbab is to be worn outdoors and in open public places like the market, the masjid, etc, and does not need to be worn indoors, such as in the house or a building where access is controlled. This is because the jilbab serves the purposes of asserting the Islamic identity of a sister, and of protecting her from harassment, which are concerns only outdoors and in public. The rules in Surah 24.31 govern the dress of the Muslim woman indoors. Thus a sister may wear the khimar and any suitable modest clothing indoors, and this is her hijab for this location. However, when she goes outdoors or to open public places, she should cover her indoor clothing with outer-garments.

Its not my intention to be a scholar or even to pretend to be one or to try to speak on every single scholarly ruling from every madhab-Sunni, Shia or Salafi regarding a Muslim womans dress.I’m also not trying to target anyone or be a “know it all”!  I have just chosen to highlight this bit of information because I get the feeling like there are many Muslim women who are ignorant of hijab and what it entails and how best to practice it. All good in this post is from Allah swt, any bad, is obviously from myself.


17 thoughts on “What does “hijab” entail?

  1. Other than the shoes, I think the last one would be fine if the jacket were closed (though the designer who decided that purple and orange match might want to get their eyes checked!). Less makeup would be good, but I’ve seen a lot worse. The pants are loose below the knee, and the jacket covers to the knee and doesn’t look form-fitting – I’d wear it (closed) in a different color scheme.

    As for the others, that’s what happens when a woman would rather not wear hijab, but does so anyway. Sometimes it’s done out of ignorance, but I’ve seen a lot of young women forced to wear it, and that’s what many of them look like.

    Covering the hair is no more religiously significant than covering most other parts of the body. When a woman covers perfectly except for a scarf, people might advise her that her hair should be covered, but no one get too upset about it. When a woman with otherwise perfect hijab wears short sleeves (as is common in Malaysia and neighboring countries), it’s a big deal, and everyone’s quick to shout “She’s doing it wrong! Why does she even bother to cover her hair while showing her arms?” No one asks why the first woman is bothering to cover her arms while showing her hair.

    That said, I’ll admit I guiltily enjoyed snickering at the ones wearing miniskirts and tights. Maybe they don’t know better, but past a point, they should be able to use their brains and figure out that covering their hair is almost pointless, because that’s not what men are going to be looking at when they walk past!

  2. Yup, I quite agree, I do try to not confront other Muslim women on what I deem these kinds of issues because I figure, in the end, its between them and their Lord, but I do now and then try to put up reminders like this on the blog because who knows, it may actually be of some help or perhaps even inspiration to the sister who wants to better herself. I personally disagree with covering period-full stop, unless one is doing entirely FISABILLAH! Not for their culture, government, family or tribe since its truely an outwards expression of your deen and level of eman…doing otherwise makes it meaningless and cheap. I do agree that yea, some just dont know any better…but as Ive complained to my husband many…many….many times that there comes a point when one wonders why didnt their parents guide them better or what parent allos their 14yr old to the masjid in *THAT!* or what college-aged woman cant realize that going out in a miniskirt and leggings but a perfect scarf is just not hijab…or…jilbab. But, again, its between them and their Lord.

  3. …Oh and about the 2nd Model in the coat, yeah, if the coat had been buttoned…it would have been quite modest, masha’Allah…but with the coat open, her awrah is exposed. She has one awrah covered yet others not covered…*scratches head*…thats unfortunately what happens when a religious duty becomes fashionable.

  4. I saw a young sister the other day in an almost identical combo to the brown/floral mini-dress pic above, I really felt I should say something but I ducked out right at the end. In the UK you see absolutely all sorts of questionable ‘hijab’, as it really has become quite a fashion to wear ‘hijab’ in many areas and many sisters mistakenly believe if their hair is covered then it is all good. DH and I were out the other day in a mainly Arab area of central London and we even saw a gulf Arab sister in black tights or sheer leggings, black short coat and then shaylah and niqab-it just looked so freaky and odd, as do many of the other ‘trendy’ hijab looks (such as the big ‘alien’ headed hijab look enabled by wearing huge hair flowers). Consequently these sisters end up attracting negative attention, not just from men but also from those who don’t like muslims or Islam; I have seen non-Muslims look at these girls with a look of absolute horror that is worse than the look any sister in niqab or any other form of appropriate hijab would get.

  5. It is really hard to say something. I think you need to know the person in most cases to decide if you should say something. Because I’ve heard so many stories about a lady who really really struggles with hijab and she’s come a long way although it is not perfect yet and she’s working on her deen and goes to the masjid for inspiration and improvement, only to show up at the masjid or other public function to have some woman demean her and put her down, leading her to stay away from the masjid altogether and give up on hijab, etc. People can be very weak in this area and I think we need to be aware that we do not know what struggles others have faced and even if we think we are not being harsh someone who is hypersensitive may find it that way. The last thing we want to do is drive someone further away from hijab and from Islam itself because they feel the people are not nice, are too judgmental, are unforgiving, etc. So we have to be so careful – it is often best not to say it to someone directly unless you know that person very well.

    As for the lady in jeans, I agree that her outfit is almost fine – she just needs to pin that jacket at the belt line.

  6. Tights!Tights! Astaghfiru’Allah. It gives me a headache. Alhamdu’Allah, I haven’t actually seen anything like that. I probably wouldn’t say anything because I would be rendered totally speechless and would just be making gagging and choking noises – and getting a headache. I wouldn’t say anything in any case. One just never knows. Maybe the person is doing their best and growing in their deen – Insha”Allah

  7. Salaam Alaikum… See this is the problem with sisters you have to wonder if they are truely sisters and concerned with your well being or with what they feel your well being is. I reverted to islam about 11 yrs ago humdullila and hijab has been a long road and battle for me. I have gone from abaya to just street clothes and scarf to nothing but long sleeves and back again in the battle to truely find what is right with allah. A lot of the time I questioned was I doing it for Allah or for the sisters ready and willing to judge me and correct what they feel is wrong with what I am wearing. The last community I was in they all wore traditional black abayas and that was the only thing truely acceptable so when I showed up for the Tarawah prayer and I had on a tan abaya I was greeted with dirty looks and not even one Salaam. I think it is disgraceful I think we should respect where a women is in her Islam and understanding and know that what they are doing is truely for Allah and that I believe is much better for any sister then living the axiety is this good enough for the sisters in the community I live how will they judge me. Everythig is a learning process and everything should be done for the sake of Allah not for anyone else and truely the reward is with the intention behind it. Now if you truely wish to move a sister foward in her interpretation of hijab telling her how wrong she is will never be the right way to do it, it will only make her put up her defensive and go in the opposit direction.

    • wa salaam, I agree with you and understand where your coming from…and yes I do understand. We should all respect each other, this is why I refrain from mentioning this to my sisters, but instead just and then like to post reminders about it, here on the blog because I figure, its not offensive, or in someones face or putting them on the spot and maybe some sisters do know and understand this and truly are struggling then in which case, I would say doa’a for them and ask them for Gods help…but unfortunately some either truly a-do not know and think the hijab is just covering the hair or b-are doing it solely for familial or cultural reasons, those are the ones I pray read this post, because hijab is more than a scarf and more than cultural norms.

      Allahu alim

  8. I agree that posting on your blog certainly means that I would react more calmly! I think it is just courtesy not to say anything unless the sister asks. Insha’Allah, we can serve as good examples, and of course Insha’Allah sisters will read some of the good blogs and information about hijab for the sake of Allah. More flies with honey than with vinegar! Insha’Allah

  9. Social pressures are a good thing when the society is pressuring you to do something correct. It’s a part of enjoining good and forbidding evil. Sometimes a person is low on imaan and the social pressure keeps society going through the “down times” in every individual’s state of imaan. Doing something for the sake of Allah is ideal but doing it to fit in still DOES serve to help the social fabric and is a step in the right direction.

    This idea that you should only wear hijab when you somehow decide it’s for Allah and not for the people is like a person saying he shouldn’t perform the 5 obligatory prayers until he can guarantee he is doing it for Allah 100% and not being distracted and not showing off or not doing it due to social pressure.

    It simply doesn’t make sense. These are obligations. We should be fulfilling them to the best of our ability. Do them and continually work on purifying your intention don’t just think you’ll magically get the correct and complete intention one day and that will be the day you start doing what Allah commands. You should get the habit formed and just do them because purifying the intention is an ongoing process and imaan rises and falls – we know this to be true. If every time I was low on imaan and distracted and distraught I just gave up on making an effort to fulfill my obligations – how would I ever learn or get back into gear?

    An ayah comes to mind:

    The bedouins say: “We believe.” Say: “You believe not but you only say, ‘We have surrendered (in Islam),’ for imaan has not yet entered your hearts. But if you obey Allah and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم), He will not decrease anything in reward for your deeds. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” 49:14

    I of all people know it’s a learning process and any advice has to come with hikmah. You can’t just go bossing people around and running them away for sure but on the same token, the receiver of this treatment has to be humble enough to try and gain from the experience. Both sides need to put forth effort. (There are numerous examples from ahadith of both people being direct and indirect with others when correcting mistakes.)

    As for those who said the woman with the long jacket would have proper hijab if she closed the jacket – this is not the case. The article itself mentions that the most lenient form of hijab includes an outer garment that is worn over the usual clothes. This disqualifies it due to the pants. There are more details which I could go into on the topic but I think the article discusses the conditions in a lovely way so I won’t mess it up, inshaAllah.

    • asalaamu alaikum, while I do agree with what your saying as far as the 5 pillars go and the salaat…I dont quite agree about the covering…because covering isnt part of the 5 pillars and while its required, its generally done due to a true sense of piety and religiousity…this is why I disagree with places forcing women to cover or women covering due to familial pressure or them covering to get attention or so noone in their family will think they are skankin’ around and from my own experiences in my local community is seems like many sisters cover not because they are religious or feel a true desire too, but because they feel its expected of them. hijab is not a cultural obligation, its religious…and I truly believe that one should’nt cover unless they are willing to take it on as a full religious obligation and follow its rules correctly because this would ensure that a sister is covering properly according to requirements and acting in a decent, modest way. Not treating it like its some stupid trend or whatever else is the case now! I realize everyone has their highs and lows and low eman days and high eman days…noone denies that, but, taking a part of the deen and essentially mocking it by skankin’ around with a headscarf just makes it worse!

      Also about the lady in the jacket, personally id rather have seen the jacket be longer, but the permissibility of pants varies depending on scholars and additionally ‘urf plays a part in the types of hijab that is suitable in a society. In some Muslim majority societies skirts are considered gross and immodest and no woman would go out in just a long skirt without visible pants under it…Iran comes to mind, in my own experience…going out in a long skirt is considered nasty and gross-for modesty reasons, esp if the pants are not readily visible under the skirt-I believe Pakistan is similar. While in others, pants are considered immodest and a male fashion and any woman going out in them is considered indecent. I’m not going there…like how ‘urf plays a role in hijab (entire modest ensemble) style modes but i’m just talking about what constitutes hijab in general…the jilbaab or overgarment. How one achieves that comes down to several factors and thats where going by the the rulings of the religious scholars one follows comes into play.

  10. I think part of the problem is that we call the headscarf “hijab” so all the emphasis is on the headscarf, when really it is a total way of dress. With my daughter (and non-Muslims who ask what it’s called), I refer to the scarf as a “headscarf’ or “scarf” to be more accurate in my speech.

  11. I get frustrated when I see these types of posts. First, they are overdone (and I know this is not the first one of its kind on this blog too), but also I feel it’s bad manners to be posting pictures of these women for all to see and judge with very little benefits to anyone.
    Ones who dress like this and are misinformed about hijab will probably fix the way they dress with simple good advice. Ones who dress like this and don’t care won’t care any more than they do now. Ones who dress like this and are informed about proper hijab but are slow in making the change will be more inspired by examples of proper hijab than by the “that’s not hijab!” attitude.

    I never got the impression that you had bad intentions in writing this post and the other similar ones you’ve written, but you probably never evaluated your intentions. I can’t know so I won’t go further, but beyond that I think a lot more negative than positive comes out of the posts. Probably a lot more women have ended up judging another Muslim than a Muslim has been helped and inspired by it.

    • sister, I wasnt trying to judge anybody, just giving examples as to what hijab actually entails. Take it as you wish…but I’m committed to mohajabaat “fashion” and as such think it’s well within the blogs scope to now and again address these issues…as far as I see, far too many “hijabi” bloggers focus solely on a perfect headscarf but neglect the rest of their attire or even behavior-as one can sometimes tell based on how they write or dress in the pictures. Ofcourse, Allah swt knows best and knows whats my intentions, I just wanted to pass on the scholarly rulings regarding hijab…and…what it entails because far too many blogs make the hijab into solely a headscarf and nothing else.

    • Also…I don’t see how any Muslimah could read this and come away from it judging others? en’sha’Allah they’ve actually stopped to re-evaluate their hijab in the fullest sense and maybe they have even learnt that going out in a tunic top and skin tight pants does not constitute hijab that instead one has to dress in baggy, modest attire, curves covered and ideally with an overgarment of some sort.

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